The Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a system used to classify and communicate chemical hazards using internationally consistent terms and information displayed on chemical labels and safety data sheets (SDS). 

While the GHS is not currently mandatory in Victoria, it becomes mandatory on 1 January 2017 in other states and territories under the Model Work Health and Safety laws. This means chemicals exported out of Victoria will most likely be required to comply with the GHS by other states/countries. Similarly, chemicals brought into Victoria will most likely be labelled in accordance with the GHS. 

In Victoria the current OHS Regulations expire in June 2017 and as part of a WorkSafe review, it is proposed to incorporate the new GHS system. The effect of this proposal is that GHS would become mandatory in Victoria. In order to safely manage chemicals, duty holders should familiarise themselves and their employees with the GHS system so as to understand the risks that the labels and SDSs identify in time for the June 2017 transition. 

Important notes for growers, retailers and allied traders: 

The key way that GHS labelling will impact upon growers/retailers is that the new labels will begin appearing on labels on containers/packages and SDSs, so be sure to access new copies and familiarise yourselves with the new pictograms as the industry transitions to the new requirements in Victoria, June 2017.

There is no change to placarding on dangerous goods outer packaging and vehicles in  transport therefore placarding in accordance with the Dangerous Goods (Transport by Road or Rail) 2008 and current ADG Code is still required. Dangerous Goods placarding on premises, including entrance to stores, cupboards and at vehicular entrances also remains unchanged. The Schedules of the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 continue to apply to communicate vital information to the emergency services of the types of dangerous goods stored. 

For more information head to the WorkSafe Victoria website.